Our culture understands heroes. Kind of.
We invented the cowboy. And the action movie. We spread stories of sports icons through advertising and marketing, challenging people to believe in something more.
Though motives may be mixed, one thing is certain: we want to believe in heroes. But I submit we've been going about it the wrong way.
A different kind of hero
Some heroes fly beneath the radar.
They aren't celebrities and you won't see them on the conference main stage. But they give of themselves for the greater good. They act nobly. Their lives inspire.
And yet, we forget to acknowledge their sacrifice. They receive no parades or holidays. They largely go unnoticed, and this is unfortunate, if not a crime.
These people have committed their lives to fighting poverty and bringing hope to dark places in the world. They've crawled through the mud and muck, enduring more than their fair share of discomfort.
They deserve recognition — precisely because they didn't ask for it.
How to celebrate an unsung hero
There are two ways to look at an event like this:
- Think of it a schmooze-fest, another black tie event with hors d'oeuvres and all that.
- Treat it like a homecoming — a huge party to honor those who may not find recognition anywhere else.
I like to think of it in the latter way. The heroes that deserve our praise rarely get it. So why not take a chance like this and make it special?
The folks at Epoch are renting the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, completely decking it out. They're giving away $50,000 to worthy candidates who are fighting AIDS, rescuing sex trade victims, and changing the world in 100 different ways.
Face it. Some of us need to be more radical in our celebration. We need to lavish love and appreciation on those whose work is often unrecognized by a celebrity-crazed culture.
We need to go to special lengths to show someone that they matter, especially when it comes to the people making a real difference in the world.
We can all do this better
The very best storytellers do this.
They tell the tale of an underdog, illustrating an ideal through an ordinary “everyman.” They inspire us to take note of unsung heroes all around — and through their actions, we are called to action.
You can do this, too. With your words. With your voice. With your life.
Homemakers and teachers, baristas and best friends, Little League coaches and Wal-mart greeters — these are the heroes who deserve our celebration.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, you can do something to celebrate a hero today. Not a rock star or a Nike ad. A real-life hero. An unsung one.
If you'd like to join Bob Goff, Joy Eggerichs, and others in honoring unsung heroes all around the world, you can buy a ticket for Epoch (on October 28) here. Enter the code “Goins” to get a $25 discount. Find out more at Epochawards.com.
What's an example of an unsung hero in your world? Share in the comments.